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What is truth for…


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What is truth for…


I was recently watching a documentary on Discovery Channel about a man who found an infant cheetah alone in the veldt. It was obvious that Cat, our cheetah, could not survive under such circumstances. John, our man, took cat home and attempted to raise her until she could fend for herself in the wild.


After a short period John recognized that he must release Cat into the wild when she had grown sufficiently to fend for her self. Of course, it stuck him that the cat must receive some training before she would be able to kill prey and thus have food and survive.


John set about to train Cat how to stalk and kill prey. He was able to combine the innate ability of Cat with various training techniques to train the Cat to stalk, capture, and kill a running animal, at least in a rudimentary way.


However, training Cat to recognize friend from foe and prey from dangerous animal in the animal kingdom was another matter. It was obvious that John had little ability to ‘educate’ Cat in the subtleties of survival. This was the task that Cat’s mother would have done.


It makes sense to me to conclude that John could not readily teach Cat the truths of her world. Without her mother’s guidance Cat had little chance to survive in her wild world even though she had grown the strength and size necessary to do so. In Cat’s wild world truth is what is necessary for survival.


I would conclude that truth for any animal, including the human animal, is a matter of survivability. Evolution is a process for determining any creature’s ability to comprehend truth, i.e. survive in their particular world.


What is truth for humans? Cognitive science informs me that “truth depends on meaningfulness” and “truth is relative to understanding”. What is meaningful for humans? I would say that, just like Cat, survival is the ultimate meaning for humans just as for Cheetahs.


Cat is not a social animal to the extent that humans are. We can examine social animals such as wolves and apes and we can see that what the group decides is meaningful, i.e. true, determines truth for the individual as well as the group. Truth for humans becomes more complex because humans have created an artificial world of meaning that makes it more difficult to ascertain what is true and what will lead to the extinction of the species.


Isn’t scientific theory an example of truth for humans?


Quotes from “Philosophy in the Flesh” by Lakoff and Johnson

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